Posted by: rcieri | November 15, 2009

Prego’s Trattoria brings Italian style to small town lacking unique dining

Prego

Despite its unappealing outside appearance, Prego’s intimate indoor atmosphere and “Old World” style service make it a prime choice for Italian dining. Photo by Lindsay Fendt.

September 30, 2009

By Rachel Cieri

Near the corner of Huffman Mill Road and Church Street sits an aging, unassuming and grayish building.

From the outside, it doesn’t look very promising. With the drive-thru from its previous owner still intact, the restaurant’s appearance sends most Italian-seeking patrons back down the road to Olive Garden. But one step inside changes everything.

Welcome to Prego’s Trattoria, Burlington’s best-kept secret and the closest thing to real Italian food for miles.

Once inside the odd little building’s fast food-style double doors, the atmosphere completely changes. Evening low-lighting, fine dining décor, Italian opera ambiance and servers in black-and-white tuxedos greet patrons in an intimately sized, but not overcrowded, dining room.

Even on a weekend night, there is seldom a wait for seating, making this off-the-beaten-path restaurant worth the venture off the interstate.  As diners soon find, the chain restaurants have nothing on this place.

Sure, Olive Garden might have its breadsticks, but Prego’s offers not one, but two choices of free appetizers. Along with a delectable bread and olive oil combination, each table is set with a dish of fried polenta cubes, a boiled cornmeal dish that is a staple in Northern Italy.

The “Old World” style service is a refreshing change to the rushed speeches of most wait staffs. In excellent English, the servers can assist in describing any menu item in detail and will offer a list of tempting daily specials. Here, no water glass will ever be empty, yet you’ll never be rushed into leaving if you’re looking for a leisurely meal.

A salad at Prego’s is certainly a must. The restaurant has its own house dressing, a mustard vinaigrette of the perfect potency, and one salad is enough to feed four.

Splitting orders is the way to go here, as the prices for dinner entrees can be on the expensive side.

For a college student, Prego’s provides a nice night out that won’t quite break the bank. A nook in one corner of the restaurant is home to a generously stocked wine bar that can be affordable even for those with part-time jobs and student loans. Prego’s house white is well worth the extra buck, even in a time when cheap $4 bottles are the norm.

No matter the craving, Prego’s menu won’t disappoint. More than 20 pasta dishes and a full page of entrees that range from veal to seafood to chicken to steak provide patrons with more than enough options. And these dishes live up to their peculiar, foreign names.

It’s obvious every dish is homemade, as the taste and texture is distinctive. Even Italian food snobs will love it.

To a restaurant whose name means “You’re welcome” in Italian, there is only one word: Grazie.

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